Before I and Dilyan started our trip in Vietnam, I did a little bit of a research. As we had only nine days and we planned to make our way through Vietnam on the back of a scooter, we decided to concentrate our attention to the Southern part of the country. So for the waterfall junkies like us, Dalat and Bao Loc were the perfect place to visit.
All of the posts over the web had different information and most importantly they showed totally different map coordinates for the most famous waterfalls in Vietnam. The most difficult, but far from unpleasant part, was to find our way to them, as the locals didn’t speak much English and the most of the maps were not updated.
Originally we aimed to visit the Elephant Waterfalls and Dambri near Da Lat. Da Lat, Vietnam’s premier highland resort and a major agricultural district, is also known as the town of the “forever autumn”. The center of the city is situated around a big lake, with a nearby shopping mall. There we found one of the few supermarkets that were selling supplies suiting our taste.
The streets were filled with motorbike riders, and overcrowded with people having picnic on the pedestrian walks, but this wasn’t something new to us. We had very little time to spend in Da Lat, so we took a walk in the central part and visited the local market. On the next day we prepared for some waterfall huntin’.
The thing about Vietnam is that the chance of ending up in the wrong place is very high, even if you follow a map, GPS and stop to ask for directions. Although we used our GPS navigation we simply couldn’t find the famous waterfall so we settled for the less known, but equally beautiful Pongua and Dambri.
Most probably you will read that Pongua waterfall is situated somewhere around Da Lat in Vietnam. Well this is not the case. Pongua can be found almost 20 kilometers away from the city and it is nowhere to be found on any map.
We soon realized that the GPS had sent us to a newly constructed but abandoned airport base. There wasn’t any sight of the waterfalls, even though the navigation insisted we are on the right place. We stopped and asked the local taxi drivers for direction, by showing them a photo of the waterfalls on our mobile. The guys didn’t speak any English apart from the words 10 and kilometers. We got the rest of the directions in the form of waving and signs.
Surprisingly as they told us, after 10 kilometers we found the exit they mentioned to us, so we took a right turn and continued driving on a smaller country road. We were instructed that we had to drive about 5 kilometers and we will be able to reach the waterfalls. 10 kilometers later there wasn’t any waterfall, but a small village, dusty road an a gas station. The gas station was the place were we were told we had to go back and find another right turn. That is what we did, and after two more stops for directions we found ourselves on a small trail that was passing by a tea fields.
At this point, after half an hour of bumping ride and one fall with the motorbike, we gave up on the idea that we could reach the waterfall, and decided to enjoy the beautiful view. And this was the moment we stumble upon the entrance of the Pongua falls park. After paying a small amount of around 50 cents we discovered one of the best places we have seen so far in Vietnam.
The multi-step fall wasn’t as abounding in water as we expected, but it was the dry season after all. The had the chance to walk on the dry river bank and to take some pretty amazing photos. Later on we climbed onto the fall and got refreshed by the cold water. The place was lacking any international tourist as we saw only one guy who was resting near by. However, the place was bustling with local tourists taking pictures and enjoying the view.
We didn’t spend much time here as we were set to reach Bao Loc before sunset and we had to ride for another 110 kilometers, before reaching our next stop. And as we already knew, the roads in Vietnam can be quite daunting. This was the reason we didn’t want to travel after sunset.